In loving memory of Gary Hugh Kalich: 1944-2023 


I was born during World War II, April 23, 1944. 

Dad shipped out to Europe the day after, leaving mom and grandma Taylor to care for the newborn. Mom, Mildred Taylor Kalich, said I was a godsend to grandma. Grandpa Taylor died two years prior. Dad, Hugh “Bud” Kalich, returned after the war and brother, Gordon, was born Sept. 15, 1947. 

We lived on Fifth Street in Toledo until my freshman year of high school. We played outside a lot with cousins and neighbor kids next door, among the big maples in what now is the Toledo Lions Park, across the street in a burned down house basement covered with blackberry vines that was our clubhouse. I spent a lot of rainy Saturdays next door at grandma’s playing canasta. I had to give up my paper route when we moved out of town to Eadon Road. High school years were some of the best. I played some basketball, had good teachers and administrators, and in my sophomore year was invited to a tolo dance by Judy Wallace, of Vader. We married on Aug. 28, 1965, and spent our first year at Washington State University in Pullman. 

After a year at Boeing and another back at WSU, we settled in Chehalis with an engineering job at Lewis County Public Utility District. Clint was born on Labor Day, Sept. 1, 1969, followed by Craig on Dec. 23, 1970. We lived first in a duplex on 18th Street, then in an old house on Folsom Street that we rehabbed and sold before moving into the home we built on Newaukum Valley Road in 1978, the year I took over the manager’s job at the PUD. 

Judy had the lead role in raising Clint and Craig. I was there for most of the important things but spent too much time at work. The 80s were a challenging time — huge increases in Bonneville Power rates, the bankruptcy of Washington Supply System nuclear projects 4 and 5, and opposition to a hydroelectric project at Cowlitz Falls. Big increases in PUD electric rates led to much customer unrest to say the least. But by 1995, with completion of the Cowlitz Falls Hydroelectric Project, settlement of the WPPSS Project 4 and 5 lawsuits and rate stabilization, those pressures lifted. 

I decided shortly after grandson Joel was born in 1997 that I was not going to miss the details of my grandkids’ early years, like happened too often with Clint and Craig. So, in April 1999, I left the PUD. Myra was born in 1999, Gary O. in 2002, and Joanna in 2003. I called them my little ones and kept notes of every day I saw them — over 500 typed pages, single spaced. Joel exclaimed to Grandma Judy one day when he got off the school bus to our house, “Grandpa is just crazy about us!” And I am. 

Retirement is a huge event in one’s life. It was when I left a dedicated PUD staff and commissioners in 1999. Most things in life have their pluses and minuses and retirement is no exception. Now as I face the big retirement, I smile at the many good things in my life. Regrets? I wish I’d been a better husband and father. As for the hereafter, I was raised Lutheran and would like to believe all the church taught me in my early years, that God is love and that believing and being baptized is the ticket to heaven — that otherwise it’s hell. I believe in a higher power. I don’t believe in hell. What loving father would send any of his children to hell? What loving father would stand aside and let his son be hanged on a cross? What about all the people of other faiths and those ignorant to Christianity? Are they condemned? I have doubts about heaven. But on the other hand, I’d be a fool to insist heaven didn’t exist. Now, as I leave this earth, I am thankful for my wife, my family, caregivers and the many good people along my way. Mourn for me a little if you must, but not for too long. Smile about the good things that happen in life. And try to leave this earth a better place than when you arrived. I did.